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H.R. 1927 (115th): African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017

A bipartisan bill would establish an official network of sites, programs, and research facilities for important spots related to the Civil Rights movement.

What the bill does

The African American Civil Rights Network Act, labelled H.R. 1927 in the House and S. 857 in the Senate, passed the House last month.

Among the locations cited for potential inclusion in the African American Civil Right Network are:

  • The Memphis, Tennessee temple where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final speech before his assassination.
  • The Birmingham, Alabama 16th Street Baptist Church whose bombing — and deaths of four black girls within — helped galvanize the nascent civil rights movement.
  • The Little Rock, Arkansas high school which was the first in the south to attempt desegregation after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision mandated it.

What supporters say

Supporters say the bill will help educate millions of Americans about the 20th century struggle for civil rights, a story which is at risk of being taken for granted by too many young people.

“The civil purpose of our legislation is to recognize, preserve, protect and share the remarkable American story of the modern struggle for civil rights, a unique national experience that touches every American, regardless of their age or heritage,” House lead sponsor Clay said in a press release.

“The historic network would create tremendous educational opportunities by recognizing those brave souls from all walks of life who fought to make the promises enshrined in our constitution finally ring true,” Clay added.

Votes and odds of passage

The House bill had 72 cosponsors: 68 Democrats and four Republicans. It passed the House on July 26 by a unanimous consent voice vote, meaning no significant opposition was recorded and no record of individual votes was cast.

The Senate bill has only one cosponsor, though a bipartisan one: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). It awaits a vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

A previous version of the bill was introduced in 2015, but never received a vote.

Last updated Sep 15, 2017. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jan 9, 2018.

(This measure has not been amended since it was passed by the House on July 26, 2017. The summary of that version is repeated here.)

African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017

(Sec. 3) This bill requires the Department of the Interior to establish within the National Park Service (NPS) a U.S. Civil Rights Network that encompasses: (1) all NPS units and programs that relate to the African American civil rights movement from 1939 through 1968; (2) with the property owner's consent, other federal, state, local, and privately owned properties that relate or have a verifiable connection to such movement and that are included in, or eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places; and (3) other governmental and nongovernmental facilities and programs of an educational, research, or interpretive nature that are directly related to such movement.

In carrying out the network, Interior must: (1) review civil rights movement studies and reports, such as the Civil Rights Framework Study; (2) produce and disseminate educational materials relating to such movement; (3) provide technical assistance; and (4) adopt an official, uniform symbol or device for the Network and issue regulations for the symbol's use.

The network shall expire seven years after enactment of this bill.